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An intense thriller that grabs the reader's attention from the beginning!
Web of Deceit is predicated upon the notion that no matter how safe, close-knit a family may be, anyone is a potential target for cyber-stalking. The story focuses on a loving, supportive, middleclass family that have recently moved to a new city for the father's professional opportunities as a computer consultant. The story centers on the fifteen year-old daughter, Annette, who demonstrates a strong family bond with both her parents. Struggling to adjust to a new city, Annette unknowingly invites an on-line predator into her family’s life. The stalking intensifies quickly from Internet communication to psychological and physical warfare. As the threats escalate, Annette struggles with the dilemma of confiding in her parents and friends, all of who have previously warned her of the potential harm that may arise from surfing the Internet. The stalker’s intentions grow more threatening, and clues of his life unfold forcing Annette to face her worst fears and ultimately decide her own fate.
Annette lifted her head and looked to her door and down the vacant hallway. Was that the sound of someone typing down the hall in her parents’ room? She looked at her watch - 5:22 P.M.. It seemed a little early for either mom or dad to be home. Besides, she thought, they always come by and say “Hello” and try to visit, inquiring about how the day went – like anything exciting would ever happen.
As the clicking sound stopped, a message immediately appeared on her screen.
DO NOT CALL ME SICK!!!! I LOVE YOU ANNETTE BELMONT. DO NOT MAKE ME ANGRY! YOU WON’T LIKE ME WHEN I’M ANGRY!!! I ONLY WANT TO TAKE CARE OF YOU AND BE WITH YOU!!!
Annette sat frozen. A strange sensation began to overwhelm her. Reading the message was terrifying enough, but to think that the message seemed to coincide with the sound coming from inside her house seemed frighteningly coincidental. As quick as the last message had popped up, the sound of what appeared to be typing from somewhere down the hall had also stopped.
The tears began to flow down her face, reverberating against the keyboard. Annette began to consider the possibilities. Could it be feasible that this lunatic was in fact inside her house right now? She strained to hear a sound – any sound…. The house was eerily silent. Her fingers now trembling – her legs bouncing uncontrollable. She tried to reassure herself that the stalker could not be in the house. However, her mind raced back to roughly an hour earlier while she was showering. Annette was now sure the loud banging noise had come from within the house.
Much to the reader's delight Toro deviates from the traditonal formula of the thriller. The reader meets the protaganist, Annette, and lives the story through her. There are no long drawn out background scenes. Flashbacks are used sparingly. There are no investigators, nor investigations. The reader meets the antagonist, Michael, through Annettes eyes. The reader knows what Annette knows. The story is fast paced. From the beginning to the end the reader rides the waves of nerves and adrenalin with Annette.
Bored upon settling with her family in blazing hot Tuscon in the middle of the summer, 15 year old Annette turns to the internet to pass time. Quickly becoming bored with the typical teen websites, " . . .She wandered to the more adult-oriented sites. Her favorite became the divorce chat room." Ever cautious, Annette " . . . began to join in the chats and fabricated fictious names and characters. . . ."
Meeting a man with whom she had a lot in common, Annette begins to chat with her new friend daily. " As Annette became more involved in the fictious character's life, she felt herself getting more engulfed in the story and became proud of her apparent success in pulling it off."
Then one day the friendly tone of the conversation disappeared and her new friend became her stalker. Can Annette unentangle herself from her stalker before anyone gets hurt?
"Web of Deceit" reads like a fast paced, drama intense "Lifetime" movie, engrossing the reader from the first page.
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